Sebastien Haller’s decisive goal propelled Ivory Coast into the Africa Cup of Nations final with a 1-0 victory over DR Congo. The Elephants, previously on the verge of elimination, showcased remarkable resilience under interim boss Emerse Fae.
Haller’s goal, an unorthodox effort that looped over the goalkeeper, secured Ivory Coast’s fifth final appearance, setting the stage for a potential redemption story if they can triumph over Nigeria on Sunday.
Having faced elimination at the group stage and undergone managerial changes, Ivory Coast defied the odds. Their journey included a comeback against Senegal and dramatic late goals against Mali.
Now, with Haller’s heroics, they find themselves on the cusp of an incredible turnaround in one of the most remarkable stories in international tournament history.
DR Congo, past winners in 1968 and 1974, presented a formidable challenge, with an early disallowed goal adding to the tension. Ivory Coast, also two-time champions, struggled to break the deadlock in the first half, with Haller missing a golden opportunity with a free header.
The decisive moment arrived in the 64th minute when Haller, now with Borussia Dortmund, showcased his scoring instinct. A somewhat fortuitous hook from Max Gradel’s cross bounced and looped over the Congo goalkeeper, giving Ivory Coast a crucial lead.
Despite Haller missing a chance to double the lead, the Elephants held on, securing a spot in the final. The remarkable turnaround, unthinkable just a fortnight ago, sets the stage for a compelling showdown against Nigeria, where Ivory Coast will aim to cap off an extraordinary journey with ultimate redemption.